April 15, 2014  
 
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How to Start a Vegetable Farm

This advice is perfect for aspiring entrepreneurs who are thinking about starting a vegetable farm. This is a must-read before you open up shop.

Wondering how to start a vegetable farm? We take you step-by-step from start to success.

Vegetable Farm

The Mechanics of Vegetable Farm Entrepreneurism

In the world of agribusiness, vegetable farming ranks high in terms of the flexibility and scalability it offers startup entrepreneurs. Whether you plan to farm five acres or five hundred, it's possible to devise a business model that results in bottom line profitability.

With demand for fresh produce and vegetables at an all-time high, you'll have a steady market for your products. But to be profitable, you'll have to work at controlling costs and finding buyers who are willing to pay a fair price for your crops.

For a small operation, it might make sense to sell directly to consumers through farm markets, a produce stand or even a small store. But if your plans include quickly ramping up to a medium or large-scale farming enterprise, you're probably better off developing relationships with grocery stores and other produce distributors from the outset.

Mitigating Financial Risk in a Produce & Vegetable Startup

Agribusinesses are inherently risky business ventures. Droughts, floods, plant diseases and other factors can wipe out your entire crop, causing a cascade of financial catastrophes that will destroy your business.

Although you can't control the weather, there are plenty of things you can control. Learning how to avoid unnecessary risks is more than a good idea -- it's a critical business skill for vegetable farmers who understand that a good insurance policy isn't enough to ensure long-term prosperity.

Specialty Options for Vegetable Farms

Nearly any vegetable farming operation can leverage specialization to execute a niche market strategy. But specialization can be especially useful for smaller operations interested in capturing a larger share of the market with few tillable acres.

  • Organic Produce. American consumers are willing to spend a little more for produce and vegetables that have been grown organically. Organic farming can be a viable business model for small vegetable operations, as long as you understand how to grow quality crops without the benefits of herbacides and pestacides.
  • Hydroponics. Hydroponic farming is a proven method for achieving higher yields in less space. The downside is that you'll need enough capital to equip your operation with hydroponic equipment and grow houses.
  • U-Pick. Some vegetable farms offer u-pick experiences to their customers. The benefit of u-pick is that you don't have to pay workers to harvest your crops. However, you need to be prepared for the unavoidable damage that results from having hoards of consumers tramping through your fields.

Business Plans 101 for Vegetable Farm Startups

Startup entrepreneurs slave over the creation of their business plans, investing countless hours in the details of their startup strategy. Now it's time to address details about your industry.

Industry analyses are standard chapters in vegetable farm business plans and are often required by lenders or investors. Industry analyses are critical for contextualizing your startup within an industry setting.

Although it sounds complicated, most entrepreneurs can create an effective industry analysis section by simply steering clear of common industry analysis mistakes.

Check Out the Competition

Prior to opening a vegetable farm within your community, it's a smart move to determine how strong the competition is. Try our link below to find competitors in your city. After following the link, enter your city, state and zip code to get a list of vegetable farms in your area.

If there's too much competition, it may be wise to consider starting the business in a less competitive marketplace.

Finding a Non-Competitive Business Mentor

As part of your due diligence on opening a vegetable farm, it's essential that you learn as much as you can from somebody who is already in the business. Local competitors are not going to give you the time of day, mind you. Why would they want to educate a future competitor?

However, a fellow entrepreneur who has started a vegetable farm on the other side of the country may be willing to share their entrepreneurial wisdom with you, given that you don't compete with them in their area. Many business owners are happy to give advice to new entrepreneurs It can take a while to find an entrepreneur who is willing to talk, but it's well worth the effort.

How does one go about finding an owner of a vegetable farm outside of your area who is willing to talk?

Simple. Let your fingers do the walking by using the link below.

Gaining Access to Vegetable Farm Ownership

Common sense will tell you that to enter the world of vegetable farm, you'll either need to start a new business or acquire a promising company on the business-for-sale marketplace. Although startup vegetable farms are common, many new entrepreneurs overlook the benefits of buying a vegetable farm on the business-for-sale marketplace.

In today's marketplace, buyers clearly have the upper hand, making it relatively easy to find a vegetable farm that meets your personal and professional objectives.

Franchising May Be a Better Way to Go

Purchasing a franchising allows you to benefit from the franchisor's brand recognition and proven business formula.

If you planning on starting a vegetable farm, you would be wise to investigate whether there are good franchise opportunities available that might be the right move for you.

The link below gives you access to our franchise directory so you can see if there's a franchise opportunity for you. You might even find something that points you in a completely different direction.

Other Useful Articles for Startup Entrepreneurs

These additional resources regarding starting a business may be of interest to you.

How to Find Start-Up Capital

Consideration Before Buying a Franchise

How to Get a DUNS Number


Conversation Board

What should we add to this article to help teach people how to start a vegetable farm? Please post your thoughts below.

eatlocal 4/2/2009

Good article! I ran across this while looking for more info on starting a farm. (I'm compiling links on the topic) When we started our small farm this year, the hardest thing for us was figuring out how much food we could grow on our land, how many people it could feed, and all the details in between. After months of finding and compiling all that info, we decided to make a farm and garden calculator to help make the planning a lot easier. It is set up for biointensive planting and works for gardeners as well as farmers. We made it into a web program so others could use it. If anyone is starting a CSA, farm, or even a vegetable garden, perhaps it would be of use to them since it takes a lot of the headache out of the planning.. It can be found at http://www.landshareco.org


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Already Own a Vegetable Farm?

If you already are in business and came here to learn about growing an existing vegetable farm, these resources will come in handy:

Marketing a Vegetable Farm

Selling a Vegetable Farm

Do You Sell to Vegetable Farms?

If you came here to learn about selling to vegetable farms, you're in the wrong place. These resources are more appropriate for you:

Selling to Vegetable Farms

Mailing Lists for Vegetable Farms

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